Criminal Code (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46)

Act current to 2016-11-21 and last amended on 2016-06-17. Previous Versions

Purpose and Principles of Sentencing

Marginal note:Purpose

 The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to protect society and to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

  • (a) to denounce unlawful conduct and the harm done to victims or to the community that is caused by unlawful conduct;

  • (b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

  • (c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

  • (d) to assist in rehabilitating offenders;

  • (e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and

  • (f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims or to the community.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 718;
  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 155;
  • 1995, c. 22, s. 6;
  • 2015, c. 13, s. 23.
Marginal note:Objectives — offences against children

 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence that involved the abuse of a person under the age of eighteen years, it shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of such conduct.

  • 2005, c. 32, s. 24.
Marginal note:Objectives — offence against peace officer or other justice system participant

 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 270(1), section 270.01 or 270.02 or paragraph 423.1(1)(b), the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.

  • 2009, c. 22, s. 18.
Marginal note:Objectives — offence against certain animals

 When a court imposes a sentence for an offence under subsection 445.01(1), the court shall give primary consideration to the objectives of denunciation and deterrence of the conduct that forms the basis of the offence.

  • 2015, c. 34, s. 4.
Marginal note:Fundamental principle

 A sentence must be proportionate to the gravity of the offence and the degree of responsibility of the offender.

  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 156;
  • 1995, c. 22, s. 6.
Marginal note:Other sentencing principles

 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

  • (a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

    • (i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,

    • (ii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused the offender’s spouse or common-law partner,

    • (ii.1) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a person under the age of eighteen years,

    • (iii) evidence that the offender, in committing the offence, abused a position of trust or authority in relation to the victim,

    • (iii.1) evidence that the offence had a significant impact on the victim, considering their age and other personal circumstances, including their health and financial situation,

    • (iv) evidence that the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization,

    • (v) evidence that the offence was a terrorism offence, or

    • (vi) evidence that the offence was committed while the offender was subject to a conditional sentence order made under section 742.1 or released on parole, statutory release or unescorted temporary absence under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

    shall be deemed to be aggravating circumstances;

  • (b) a sentence should be similar to sentences imposed on similar offenders for similar offences committed in similar circumstances;

  • (c) where consecutive sentences are imposed, the combined sentence should not be unduly long or harsh;

  • (d) an offender should not be deprived of liberty, if less restrictive sanctions may be appropriate in the circumstances; and

  • (e) all available sanctions, other than imprisonment, that are reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with the harm done to victims or to the community should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders.

  • 1995, c. 22, s. 6;
  • 1997, c. 23, s. 17;
  • 2000, c. 12, s. 95;
  • 2001, c. 32, s. 44(F), c. 41, s. 20;
  • 2005, c. 32, s. 25;
  • 2012, c. 29, s. 2;
  • 2015, c. 13, s. 24, c. 23, s. 16.

Organizations

Marginal note:Additional factors

 A court that imposes a sentence on an organization shall also take into consideration the following factors:

  • (a) any advantage realized by the organization as a result of the offence;

  • (b) the degree of planning involved in carrying out the offence and the duration and complexity of the offence;

  • (c) whether the organization has attempted to conceal its assets, or convert them, in order to show that it is not able to pay a fine or make restitution;

  • (d) the impact that the sentence would have on the economic viability of the organization and the continued employment of its employees;

  • (e) the cost to public authorities of the investigation and prosecution of the offence;

  • (f) any regulatory penalty imposed on the organization or one of its representatives in respect of the conduct that formed the basis of the offence;

  • (g) whether the organization was — or any of its representatives who were involved in the commission of the offence were — convicted of a similar offence or sanctioned by a regulatory body for similar conduct;

  • (h) any penalty imposed by the organization on a representative for their role in the commission of the offence;

  • (i) any restitution that the organization is ordered to make or any amount that the organization has paid to a victim of the offence; and

  • (j) any measures that the organization has taken to reduce the likelihood of it committing a subsequent offence.

  • 2003, c. 21, s. 14.

Punishment Generally

Marginal note:Degrees of punishment
  •  (1) Where an enactment prescribes different degrees or kinds of punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence.

  • Marginal note:Discretion respecting punishment

    (2) Where an enactment prescribes a punishment in respect of an offence, the punishment to be imposed is, subject to the limitations prescribed in the enactment, in the discretion of the court that convicts a person who commits the offence, but no punishment is a minimum punishment unless it is declared to be a minimum punishment.

  • Marginal note:Imprisonment in default where term not specified

    (3) Where an accused is convicted of an offence punishable with both fine and imprisonment and a term of imprisonment in default of payment of the fine is not specified in the enactment that prescribes the punishment to be imposed, the imprisonment that may be imposed in default of payment shall not exceed the term of imprisonment that is prescribed in respect of the offence.

  • Marginal note:Cumulative punishments

    (4) The court that sentences an accused shall consider directing

    • (a) that the term of imprisonment that it imposes be served consecutively to a sentence of imprisonment to which the accused is subject at the time of sentencing; and

    • (b) that the terms of imprisonment that it imposes at the same time for more than one offence be served consecutively, including when

      • (i) the offences do not arise out of the same event or series of events,

      • (ii) one of the offences was committed while the accused was on judicial interim release, including pending the determination of an appeal, or

      • (iii) one of the offences was committed while the accused was fleeing from a peace officer.

  • Marginal note:Cumulative punishments — fines

    (5) For the purposes of subsection (4), a term of imprisonment includes imprisonment that results from the operation of subsection 734(4).

  • Marginal note:Cumulative punishments — youth

    (6) For the purposes of subsection (4), a sentence of imprisonment includes

    • (a) a disposition made under paragraph 20(1)(k) or (k.1) of the Young Offenders Act, chapter Y-1 of the Revised Statutes of Canada, 1985;

    • (b) a youth sentence imposed under paragraph 42(2)(n), (o), (q) or (r) of the Youth Criminal Justice Act; and

    • (c) a sentence that results from the operation of subsection 743.5(1) or (2).

  • Marginal note:Cumulative punishments — sexual offences against children

    (7) When a court sentences an accused at the same time for more than one sexual offence committed against a child, the court shall direct

    • (a) that a sentence of imprisonment it imposes for an offence under section 163.1 be served consecutively to a sentence of imprisonment it imposes for a sexual offence under another section of this Act committed against a child; and

    • (b) that a sentence of imprisonment it imposes for a sexual offence committed against a child, other than an offence under section 163.1, be served consecutively to a sentence of imprisonment it imposes for a sexual offence committed against another child other than an offence under section 163.1.

  • 1995, c. 22, s. 6;
  • 1997, c. 18, s. 141;
  • 2002, c. 1, s. 182;
  • 2015, c. 23, s. 17.
 
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